Tuesday, January 17, 2006
I'm interested to see whether people can listen to this, which is hosted on my MediaBlog, a newish service from Mail2Web, the service I use to view my e-mail when away from home. I think it probably works fine, but go listen all the same. It's worth it.

Saturday was Windhaven's Yule Feast. The idea was that it was all food, all day. I can't think of a better Barony to host such an event, and indeed, it was a tasty--but not overwhelming--day of food. THL Friedrich, the autocrat, asked me to perform little introduction pieces for the One Bite Wonders, basically six small courses of appetizers on the half-hour.

I procrastinated, pondered, worried, etc., and then bit the bullet and wrote all six in two consecutive evenings last week. They were all set to medieval tunes--"A l'entrada del temps clairs", "Edi Beo Thu", etc.--except for the scotch eggs course, which stuck its eggy head up at me and demanded to be set to "Scotland, the Brave". The lyrics were silly little pieces pimping the foods, and in the end, looking desperately for a unifying theme (not the easiest thing to do after the fact, but it had to be done), I wrote a short, over-earnest introduction in which I "confessed" to everyone my deeply-held dream of someday running a medieval-themed advertising agency. Voila--all six pieces became experiments in medieval jingle-writing. Lameness turned to a virtue.

The performances went okay; I think I sounded all right, and I know I was heard, since I afterward asked people sitting at the extremes of the hall if they could hear me. Even the shtick of incorporating a cheesehead joke into the crustini/cheese bites course went over well, despite the fact that the cooks had decided at the last minute to use cheese spread rather than cubes. Turns out cheese spread on toast rounds works just as well as actual cheese, if you convince six other people to hold it just above their heads and grin stupidly, pretending they're wearing cheeseheads. (Though I would like to apologize to any who ended up with crumbs in their hair.)

It's odd to have written something that a) I think has very little actual inherent quality in it, yet served its purpose in context, and b) I'll probably never sing again. I'm tempted to groan and mutter "these are the stunted fruits of untreated writer's block", but I have to remind myself: it was what Friedrich wanted, and I got nothing but positive feedback. Call it trade-off for those times I wrote something that I thought was inspired, elegant, or lovely, and people yawned at it. There are mercifully few of those pieces, but by the same token, I expect there to be mercifully few things I write knowing they're trash, yet they garner applause.

Other times during the event, I worked on my scarf project, which is not going well (I'm following directions, but it doesn't look ONE BIT like it's supposed to look), listened to Alissende play harp, and played Mille Bornes with Serafina, Jagiello, and Chuckie. Now there's something I haven't done yet at an SCA event: played a modern, mundane card game. Next time I complain about teenagers playing Pokemon or Magic at SCA events, remind me of Mille Bornes, please.

This coming weekend, Mom and I were going to go to a Dells indoor waterpark, but I did some research and found out that costs go down nearly 50% if you go during the week. So we'll wait until we're both free during a week sometime.

Which could happen yet this spring: money for my position is running out in March. However, I have some hope of being able to get a position at R&L, or at least getting some interesting LSA offers since I took the LSA exam last Saturday morning. Yup, before the event. My boss advised me to take it, so I looked up the testing date and was crestfallen that it conflicted with Yule Feast. Then I realized: it's at 8:30 am, and there's a test site in Green Bay! So I just went before the event. I didn't find it horrible (I would hope I didn't, after an MLS and ten years of varied library experience) but it did have its sticky spots. I certainly had to stop and think carefully about the more detailed tasks, like putting call numbers in order or spotting errors in addresses. Cockiness was not called-for.

There was a section at the end that had the test-taker computing salary averages and figuring out student worker paychecks; I had forgotten a calculator, so I did it by hand, and never did come up with exact figures. You can tell this with scan-tron tests; they're all multiple-choice, so if your answer isn't one of the choices, you know you're wrong. But I believe I was close enough to pick the right answers.

The procrastinating about Bardic Madness preparations is now over, on both sides of the equation. And the world rejoiced...! The task tonight (the one I'm taking a break from): Bardic Madness challenges. They need to be published in the March Northwatch, so they have to be in to Friedrich by the end of January. I think I've come up with most of the ones I need; there are still spots for the Royal Challenge and for the one I annually have Owen come up with. Both need to be thematic (the theme is colors, or, stated in a more period fashion, "Divers hues"--a phrase used in translations of the Bible and the Koran and Roman texts, and in various more recent rewritings of medieval legends) or else I won't have enough stuff on the theme. I'm about to e-mail Owen and Her Majesty Aesa--wish me luck. I think I'll get some good stuff from them.

To those to whom I owe an e-mail...I'm slowly catching up on my to-do list. There is no good excuse as to why I'm behind. I'm sorry. Please accept my apologies and feel free to bug me about it.



Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Yesterday, I finally went to Lakeside Fibers. Now I understand why, as I was walking into The Knitting Tree last month for the first time since I was a toddler (Mom knit once or twice...and the store is across the street from our Temple), I overheard one employee saying to another, "And I told her, no, NO, DON'T go to Lakeside Fibers, we'll get it for you!" That was fear in her voice. I recognize it now.

The drawing on the LF page is out-of-date: there has been a gorgeous addition to the rear of the building (starting about where the little people are sitting and extending towards your right, lakewards). The addition is a large peaked room with a wall of windows overlooking the lake, a staircase to the basement in the center, and a coffeehouse counter on the eastern wall. (I wouldn't normally know directions, but I checked the map before leaving to shop yesterday.) About 2/3 of this room is yarn displays (plus some nice displays of handwovens), adding on probably twice what they had allotted to yarn in the previous building. (Don't know for sure, I'd never been there, but I could sort of tell what had been in use and what was new.) My mocha was good. Little too much foam, perhaps.

The yarn just goes on and on and on. It made me wide-eyed and covetous. There is an entire (25', six feet high) wall of every color made of Cascade 220, just as an example. (Makes me want to knit that. It felts though, so no socks. Maybe someday, when I take up felting.) More selection of almost any type of yarn than I have yet seen in my Madison yarn travels. Their sock yarn section wasn't big, but there was a type I hadn't heard of (Skacel Trampoline, slightly stretchy wool sock yarn, of which I bought two in Tiger Stripe for sockettes for one of my sister's friends), and a rack of Koigu/Opal Gems/other merino handpaint lookalikes. Besides the Trampoline, I got some butter yellow Dale Baby Ull to knit along with the Trampoline (which is so far going well), some cornflower blue 100% alpaca which is cloud soft (for a treat for myself, haven't decided what yet) and two Koigu KPPPM skeins in a blue and white spotted wintery colorway that isn't on any KPPPM color chart that I can find.

I also got to watch a store employee wind yarn balls, which sounds boring until you realize she uses a big spinning wooden swift and an electric ball winder. Both are located on a table in the (cramped) front room of the store), near the exit to the middle room; I'm surprised they've never clipped anyone on the shoulder or in the eye with that thing as they walk past!

The idea is that some people want their yarn in ball form rather than skein; skeins are harder to pull from while you're knitting. So you put the skein around the swift, expand it so it holds tight, attach the end to the ball winder, and go. The humming sounds from each machine--electric buzzing from the ball winder, windy whirring from the non-powered swift--catch your attention and you can't help but watch. A middle-aged woman and a young woman who seemed to be her Norwegian homestay daughter were staring at the process when I came in. The older woman asked the younger, "This is a swift; how would you say that in Norwegian?" The younger had obviously never seen such a thing, and laughingly said, "I have no idea!"

You can tell by the fact that I went yarn shopping at all this weekend, that the Dadsocks and Momsocks of Doom are done. I finished Dad's second sock at the Jararvellir Yule Moot on New Year's Day. I feel sort of bad that I wasn't able to get them their Hannukah socks before the end of the holiday, but they had already left for Las Vegas. They'll be back tomorrow, but still, it's the principle of the thing.

It is just now occurring to me that I now have a digital camera and I ought to use it. I even have a Flickr account to hold the photos (my own webspace is slowly getting cramped). I'll have to get pictures of my knitting projects and upload them, and link them from here.

The knitting thing is about the only part of life that's really going well. Everything else is just ambling along. I'm having a houseguest (SCA acquaintance) from tonight to Saturday, which will be nice in some ways, but inconvenient in others. I am in that "you don't want to talk to me for more than a minute, trust me" mood, caused by hormones. At these times I prefer being alone. My houseguest is a very feelings-oriented person who, I fear, will want to spend vast swathes of time exploring our inner selves. My inner self may, at a certain point, direct me to stand up, tell her that my inner self is not available right now, and lock myself in my bedroom for the rest of the evening. Even if it's only 7:30. I just hope she won't be offended if I'm not up to deep conversation.

Before I met my last boyfriend, I used to think I was the type of person who would enjoy long, deep conversations complete with crying and hugging and painful memories laid bare and pledges of self-improvement. I don't know what on earth made me think that. Attempting that sort of relationship with Paul nearly tore me to pieces. Honestly, I would much rather just live, make stuff, share stories and fun, and sing.

Anyway...we'll see how things go. I need to make ginger snaps for my sister tonight (something I promised I'd do over the weekend, and never got to) so at least I have a goal to keep me occupied tonight.

Just finished Queen's Ransom by Fiona Buckley. This isn't my first mystery novel, but if you don't count Nancy Drews and other YA stuff, I'm sure I can still count the number of mysteries I've read on one hand. With all the historical mystery series out there, and knowing that the wellspring of SCA-period historical fiction can't be eternal, every so often I've tried a medieval or Renaissance-themed mystery. And given it up a chapter or so in. They're stilted, the characters are stereotyped, and plot exposition drives the prose like a 12-year-old farm kid drives a truck: sloppily and mercilessly. They never let the setting or the characters speak for themselves.

Not so with Queen's Ransom. I think I am snagged by the main character, Ursula Blanchard, who is a convincingly painted Elizabethan woman. Never mind the fact that, as a mystery heroine, she's three times as smart and four times as experienced as the average Elizabethan lady-in-waiting would have been. That part is a mystery convention. The rest, including the well-fleshed-out personalities of her servants and associates, is what kept me reading. I bought this book for $1 (in hardcover!) on the clearance rack at Half Price Books, along with the next one in the series, To Ruin a Queen. Both were worth more, and I'm thinking of going straight on to the next one, which is atypical for me.

Yule Moot was nice. I got a lot of knitting done, saw some people I hadn't seen in awhile, and got good hugs in with my friends. Their Majesties held Court, but only gave out one award. It made me think about sending in some award recommendations. Seems to me the volume of awards is going down in general these days. Or maybe that's just my brain lagging behind with the new awards system, I dunno.

Jararvellir Court did not have the same problems. At least eight new Pisces were made, including three couples (that's convenient) and three members of the Jara Choir. Clara got a Zephirus, which is the "attagirl" for newcomers who dive right in. We were all pleased as punch.

The food, as usual, was a-freakin'-mazing. My favorites included Reinhold's yummy pork roast with the vegetables left in (why did Giles always take the vegetables away when he made a roast for a Rokeclif potluck? I waaaaant my vegetables...), a noodles-and-cheese-and-chicken dish, and Clara's flan. My chocolate-chip-hazelnut cookies were barely touched, on a completely devastated potluck table, I think because someone had put a card in front of them saying "black pepper cookies" (actually referring to the cookies in front of the card, which were on a wheel-shaped dish with several other varieties, so there wasn't a better place to put the card). People were probably leery of black pepper in cookies. (I tried the actual black pepper cookies, btw; they were exquisite, cute as buttons, and people ate them up.) So I brought my cookies to work today. People at R&L know good cookies when they see them. There was exactly one left when I left this evening.






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